Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Apparently Ohio death records, which had previously been accessible from the familysearch.org's pilot page (with full view of other records with similar search terms) have now been moved to a beta site. I ran into a similar situation a few months ago when the Philadelphia cemetery returns (titled as death certificates on the site because they are are mixed in with later death registers, etc.) were removed as part of a site change. I checked the beta site to see if they were there, and sure enough, they too are listed as part of the record collection on the beta site. So I was really excited to see them back and glad that the Ohio death records haven't been lost either. Check out the site and view the full record collection list to see what's available now http://fsbeta.familysearch.org/s/collection/list
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The bad news was that two out of the three cemeteries I visited had fairly disappointing results. At West Union Cemetery, a medium-sized township cemetery, I was looking for the stone of Perry Williamson. His 1913 death certificate and obituary both say that he was buried there but after about an hour and a half of walking around and dodging bugs I was unable to find it. If he ever had a stone, and it's very possible that he never did, it's gone now or among the many broken and worn stones that are stacked up against two large trees on the cemetery grounds. Despite the fact that it was a public cemetery, no known documentation regarding lot purchases and/or lot maps exists so for now we'll just have to be satisfied with the belief that he's there somewhere. That doesn't really work for me but there isn't a whole lot I can do about it short of hiring someone to do one of those ground surveys to tell us where the people are...so yeah, if there's anyone out there who would like to donate the funds for that be sure to let me know :)
So then I moved on to Causey Cemetery. Causey, unlike West Union, is a small family cemetery located on a very narrow gravel road and I went to the grounds armed with a copy of a photo of the stone I was looking for. So one would think I knew what I would find. You'd like to think that anyway. I was looking for the stone of the earliest confirmed Gilkeson ancestor-the one who first came to the Midwest from the East. John Gilkeson died in Parke County in the 1850s and his stone was photographed for a local transcription project that fizzled out before accomplishing very much, many years ago. I was estimating that the photo I had of his stone was about 10 years old, maybe slightly less. In the photo, the stone is in great shape, standing straight up, and is well readable. After two walk-arounds not finding it on my own, this is what I found
So that covers the disappointments for the cemetery day. My final disappointment of the trip came the following day in the Courthouse. I spent the bulk of the day in the Clerk's Office going through the Probate records, doing inventory for the NGS HSC as well as looking up records for my own research. Parke County is fortunate to still have the complete probate packets dating back to the 1830s (though the county was formed in the early 20s, a serious fire around 1830 destroyed those precious early records) and they are in the back room in wall drawers. Did you catch that? "Wall drawers". This means that the packets were placed in the drawers decades ago and obviously the office has accumulated additional modern file cabinets over the years. Those new file cabinets need space somewhere in the room and guess where they went? Yep, about 1/3 of the old probate drawers are completely inaccessible because there are new metal file cabinets, filled with new case files, parked right in front of the drawers. They're filled, that means they are not able to be moved without a dolley and/or some very strong moving guys. And they're filled with NEW cases which means there really isn't any motivation for the staff to arrange any kind of help with moving them just to reach some old stuff that they don't use.
Remember Perry Williamson who I was searching for at West Union? He died in 1913 and I thought it would be great to take a look at his probate packet. Perhaps there would be a cemetery receipt included since several of the packets I viewed that day were filled with final receipts. Well, can you guess where the 1913 drawer is? If you guessed behind the file cabinets, you guessed right. It's on the bottom row all the way over to the right, directly behind the file cabinets. And to make matters worse, these probate packets have not been filmed, abstracted, indexed, nothing so they are basically dead to the world. They're obstructed and inaccessible with not much hope that they will be made available, at least not anytime soon. I'd love to say that some grad students could make it a summer project or something, but without a local genealogical society to back it up I don't see that happening.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This can be tedious, but the payoff is huge. And really, what choice do you have? You either put in the time to find the record you need, or you don't, and then you have a big gap in your research. And really, I'm far too partial to having as much info as possible to have large gaps of the unknown in my info if I can help it. So don't give up so easily when searching for your records!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In a county history of Parke County, Indiana there was a brief reference to a soldier's reunion occurring in the county seat, Rockville, in 1875 (no exact day was given). At that time, my only Confederate ancestor (at least the only one that I've found so far) was a fairly recent citizen of Parke Co., having migrated shortly after the war. Part of my assignment was to look at the list of 100+ neighbors living in close proximity to him at the time of the 1870 census; they were all from Indiana and most of the families that I've seen were from Union families. In the little snapshot of a list that I've compiled, Emsley McMasters and his family were probably one of only a handfull of former-Confederates in the area suddenly swarmed by several thousand former Union sympathizers and veterans. I've already posted about my theory that he was probably not a willing Confederate participant, but regardless, it makes me wonder just how comfortable he may have been on the day of that "reunion".
....Oh, and did I forget to mention who the honored guest of the Parke County event was? It was General William T. Sherman. Yes, that Sherman. The Gone with the Wind burning of Atlanta Sherman. Now that's the kind of guest that would make any former Confederate get the warm and cozies, right?
Just my random thought for the day. One of many anyway :)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Also, some news for next year came down the grapevine while I was there. Apparently, they are going to try something new for the online registration process for the 2011 Institute to help with the overflow problem crashing their servers, as it did during the last registration. The idea is to stagger the registration by time so that not everyone is trying to register for all courses at the same time. In theory this could be a big help, but we'll have to wait until January to find out. Til then, I'll be studying up and finishing the NGS HSC course to get ready for Course 4: Advanced Methodology next year. That class actually had a pop quiz on the first day and a good deal of homework throughout the week. Whew! Gotta get myself as ready as possible for that one!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Be back next weekend
Friday, June 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Tom Jones will be teaching his Advanced Methodology course this year, and there are several locale-specific courses as well including a New England course with hands-on consultation time from NEHGS experts.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to go yet, but I'd love to. The cost for the registration, plane fare, hotel for at least 5 nights, and meals for all of those days, plus the fact that it's held in January while my son is in school and my husband will most likely be working 16 hour days makes it difficult for me to fathom an attempt. However, I'm working on a plan...I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to come up with something before Thursday because like IGHR, registration for SLIG fills up fast. So if you have even the slightest desire to go, you'd better hop on the 'puter and register early.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
So on top of all of this research and paper work, I'm very happy to say that next weekend is the start of the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Alabama! I know several of us registered back in January and it's almost time to head out. I'm flying down next Sunday and the course will last until the following Friday. There were a ton of courses to take, they all sounded great, but I opted for the course of Virginia and its military and migration. Virginia is such a feeder state that I felt it was imperative to know more about what was happening within its borders at a time when so many of my own ancestors were living there and what was going on that could have impacted their decisions to move out when they did. This will be my first year at IGHR and I can't wait.
Another bit of great news is that the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has extended the early bird deadline for registration to this year's conference in Knoxville, TN. You can take advantage of the savings as long as you register prior to June 21st. More info can be found here
The last bit I wanted to share was a great article for anyone interested in North Carolina research, especially during the Civil War. The article is from "The North Carolina Historical Review" (January 1984) and is entitled "Neighbor against Neighbor: The Inner Civil War in the Randolph County Area of Confederate North Carolina". It's a fascinating yet sometimes horrifying article about a pro-Union, anti-slavery majority in a Confederate state. I ordered this article to help me gain some perspective on my McMasters family who was living in Randolph County during the War and promptly left immediately after. It's no wonder. If things were bad for the inhabitants of that area during the War, it doesn't sound like it was any better there after. The appeal of land in a land in Indiana that hadn't been touched by the War would have a strong pull to a family in danger of losing everything they had and surrounded by anger and death. This article would be interesting to anyone with North Carolina ancestors, but also to those wanting to know more about the inner struggles going on during the War. We all have Civil War connections and getting a glimpse of what the people living through it dealt with on a day to day basis can be vital to understanding the context of their society. If you'd like to take a look, you can order the periodical from http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/the-north-carolina-historical-review.html or order it through your library's ILL